We live in an age where the average adult’s attention span is down to just 8 seconds – that’s less than a goldfish! So how do modern emarketers market to a bunch of goldfish in suits on their smartphones?

The answer, of course, is shorter, easier to digest email marketing content – and the king of understandable content has to be images.

People who read a message with an image are 55% more likely to remember it than messages with only text meaning that emails with images are at a distinct advantage compared to their less attractive counterparts!

With this in mind, designing email with images should become a priority for emarketers wanting to make a lasting impression on their clients – however, including images in email can be a risky business.

Read on to find out how to protect yourself from the pitfalls of including images in email!

Images in Email Should Always Alt Text

While it may seem counter-productive to this article, never assume that your images will load correctly. Most email applications block images requiring an action from the reader to enable the images to load, which is something emarketers can’t rely on.

Alt text on images saves your email from appearing as a blank white block sheepishly asking the recipient to load images. The only way this could be worse is if this was written in Comic Sans.

With SharpSpring Mail +, it couldn’t be easier! Just select your image and type in your alt text in the white box that appears near the top of the screen.

Never Include Important Details in an Image

Many popular email clients such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook and MSN have images off by default! With this knowledge, it’s a good idea to keep important links and information as text.

All important information, such as price, product title, value proposition and expiration date, must be in HTML text.

HTML coding is not very attractive, but the end result is worth the effort! Call to action buttons are still able to gain attention and be readable in email applications that block images.

Headings and banners with important text should either be replaced with HTML text or have the text repeated later in the copy so that it’s still able to reach the recipient

Don’t Embed Images, Use a URL

While attaching images to your email guarantees the recipient will receive the images, it’s generally a bad idea.

Firstly, spam filters specifically search for large, embedded images attached to emails as a signifier to send the email to the spam folder. This is because many spammers include images in an attempt to include inappropriate content that many filters can’t read.

Secondly, if you’re not careful, you may end up with a message too large for the parameters of an email provider and get completely bounced altogether.

It is much better to put images into your email the same way you would put images onto a webpage – with HTML and the URL to where your image is stored on your server. This is the most common way to include images in your email, and for good reason!

You avoid getting a spam score, your messages don’t ‘weigh’ too much and you can always upload a different image to the storage location in case your original image had something wrong with it.

The only downside to including images via URL is that recipients will have to allow images to load on their email clients and browsers.

The Quarter Rule

Only about a quarter of your email should consist of images.

While emails that contain a lot of images look great to the eye; they don’t fare so well against the spam filter! When spammers caught onto the idea that you could use HTML to link images directly onto an email, anti-spam filters had to become stricter.

Since you cannot rely on all your images displaying correctly in the multitude of browsers and email applications available; it’s a good idea to have most of your email guaranteed to be readable.

By making sure only a quarter of the content in your email are images, you maximize the chance your message will be able to be read.

On Background Images

Beware when using layered images and backgrounds!

Outlook generally doesn’t support background images, so always use a solid background colour as a fallback and never include important information in the background.

However, many emarketing designers have adapted to images being blocked by creating background images and foreground HTML text. This allows your message to still be seen, even if the image is blocked.


Out of all this, it won’t matter how optimized your images are if you don’t design your email to be responsive.

SharpSpring Mail + offers responsive templates with correct image placement and optimization automatically in place – so you don’t have to worry!

The email marketing application also offers an image resource server to ensure that your images are secure whenever you upload them to your email newsletter.


  • Author: maryka.burger

  • Maryka has worked across multiple industries ranging from hard news journalism to digital tech companies and advertising. She is an expert at building online presence, and offers a wealth of knowledge on digital marketing, social media and automation trends to agencies and digital start-ups.